The small village of Aubrac


Aubrac countryside : a buron at Prades

A volcanic plateau
with an exceptionally rich flora.

A heritage of Auvergne volcanoes coming down from the old region of the Rouergue, the Aubrac plateau (40 km long by 20 km wide) extends to the south of the Massif Central straddling the Departments of Aveyron; Lozère and Cantal.

With an altitude rising from 1,000 to 1,400 metres its climate is typically mountainous with long hard winters sometimes with heavy snowfalls. Rich in 1,000 species of plants, some of which very rare, the Aubrac offers an exceptionally rich flora.

Avec 1000 espèces de plantes dont certaines sont très rares, l’Aubrac offre une flore d’une richesse exceptionnelle.

 




Aubrac throughout the seasons





Typical stone walled roads


A region true to its
pastoral tradition.

Until the eleventh century; the Aubrac was covered in thick forests which were the hiding place for bandits who attacked pilgrims coming from Puy-en-Velay making their way to Santiago de Compostela. The harsh climate and lawlessness encouraged Adalard, a Flemish count to found an Abbey for the pilgrims’ protection. It was constructed by the monks in 1120 and was named the Abbey of Aubrac. The monks cleared the land around the Abbey. These unwooded areas were too high in altitude to grow decent cereal crops but made rich pastureland. In this way livestock farming began and led to the birth of the Aubrac cattle line: a hard and resilient breed. Since then the cows have nourished the men who have inhabited the Aubrac. Today livestock breeding and the production of Laguiole cheese as well as cutlery form the economic base of this unique micro region.

The Aubrac is a region rich in tradition, the most eccentric of which is the “transhumance” (leading cattle to summer pasture). In the old days; the wild herds instinctively followed the trail of the rich pasture. With the passage of time, man became the shepherd and even accompanied the animals. Even today on 25th May (Saint Urban’s Day) the cowsheds of the valley empty and the cows decked in bells, flowers and branches leave for the summer pasture. The period spent on summer pasture lasts until 13th October (Saint Guiral’s Day). Until fairly recently cows and calves were kept by cattlemen living in “burons”, basic huts which were eventually made more solid with a very low roof made of “lauze” (local stone tiles). It is here that Laguiole cheese was made and matured in the buron’s cellar.

 

Aubrac bull and cow

Herd going to summer pasture on
the day of the transhumance


 

The harp shaped horns of the cow specific to the breed

Cows on summer pasture on a bed of daffodils